What is it 1,4-dioxane

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 December, 2008, 12:00am

What's it used for?

The compound 1,4-dioxane is contaminant formed as a byproduct in the manufacturing of products such as detergents, foaming agents, emulsifiers and solvents. It may be present in miniscule amounts in cosmetics and personal care products such as deodorants, shampoos, toothpastes and mouthwashes.

Is 1,4-dioxane in cosmetics harmful?

The US Food and Drug Administration says: 'The 1,4-dioxane levels we have seen in our monitoring of cosmetics do not present a hazard to consumers.'

Has it ever been a problem?

Concerns were raised in the 1970s, when studies at the US National Cancer Institute found a link between 1,4-dioxane and cancer in animals when it was administered in high levels in animal feed. However, the levels in cosmetic products are 'far lower than those found to be harmful in feeding studies', says the FDA report and, for the most part, the types of products in which it is found contact the skin for only a short time. As a precaution, the FDA followed up with studies that showed 1,4-dioxane can penetrate animal and human skin when applied in certain products, such as lotions. 'However, further research by the FDA determined that 1,4-dioxane evaporates readily, further diminishing the already small amount available for skin absorption.'